Hanukkah & recovery

Hanukkah and Recovery Share Similarities

Hanukkah is a celebration of Judaism and Jewish culture. It commemorates how Jews recaptured, purified, and dedicated their Jerusalem temple more than 2,000 years ago.

In 2021, this eight-day holiday occurs from November 28th to December 6th.

Why does Hanukkah occur? According to legend, during the reclamation of the Jerusalem temple, its occupants lit a temple lamp called a ner tamid (current synagogues also feature lamps with this name). While there was supposedly only enough oil for one day, the oil lasted long beyond that: eight days.

People also hope for similar longevity in their sobriety. After rehab treatment for drug or alcohol problems, people’s recoveries are just beginning. Recoveries are processes that last entire lifetimes.


The endurance of the temple’s oil is why Hanukkah candleholders contain nine candles: one candle for each of the eight days and another candle to light the rest. The candleholders go by various names, including chanukiahs, hanukkiahs, hanukkiah menorahs, or menorahs.

Candles are also important to birthday cakes and other festivities. Some people use birthday-type cakes to commemorate the length of different milestones: their recoveries from drug or alcohol addiction. When they do this, they might choose to light one candle for every year that they’ve been sober.


Sobriety or recovery cakes are sweet treats that acknowledge long-term recovery milestones. Similarly, Hanukkah incorporates different foods for symbolic reasons.

One holiday-related food is a doughnut known as a sufganiyah (plural: sufganiyot). Sufganiyot are fried in oil, and so are latkes, which are savory pancakes typically made from potatoes or other root vegetables. Both traditional Hanukkah foods remind people of the story of the temple and its oil.


Hanukkah commemorates events in a temple. It’s a religious holiday practiced by members of a specific faith, Judaism.

Some people incorporate religion or spirituality in their recoveries. They might attend rehab centers that discuss religious principles or participate in groups that discuss the presence of a higher power.


Celebrations of Hanukkah often feature members of immediate families, other relatives, and friends. Children participate in candle lighting ceremonies and other aspects of the commemoration, which provides opportunities for people to honor the holiday and their relationships.

Finding and maintaining sobriety is also a group effort. Sobriety might include the love, support, and finances of loved ones, medical and therapeutic help at rehab facilities and programs, the ongoing assistance people receive after leaving such care, and continued understanding from sobriety support groups.

Hanukkah and recovery both celebrate endurance and beliefs that miracles can happen. Hanukkah Sameach! (Happy Hanukkah!)


reformjudaism.org – History: The Hanukkah Story

myjewishlearning.com – The Hanukkiah (Hanukkah Menorah)

sunshinebehavioralhealth.com – 30-Day Inpatient Rehab Programs

Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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